Orlando J. Smith

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Orlando Jay Smith

Orlando Jay Smith (June 14, 1842 - December 20, 1908) was a journalist and philosophical author on science and religion. He developed a belief system called Eternalism.

Early life

Orlando Jay Smith was born on a farm near Terre Haute, Indiana. His father, Hiram Smith, was a pioneer and came to Indiana from Vermont. Orlando Smith attended Asbury College which later became Depaul University.

American Civil War

At the outbreak of the Civil War, Smith enlisted in the Union Army as a private and rose to the rank Major at age 22.[1] He served in the 6th Indiana Volunteer Cavalry part of the Armies of the Potomac, Ohio and Cumberland. He was taken prisoner and sent to the infamous Confederate prisoner of war camp in Andersonville, Georgia.[2]

After the war Major Orlando Smith ran a cotton plantation for three years in Enterprise, Mississippi.

Journalist career

He moved to Terre Haute, Indiana and became editor the Terre Haute Mail. Later he acquired the Terre Haute Express and in 1873 moved the paper to Chicago, renaming it the Chicago Express. In 1882 Orlando Smith founded the American Press Association in Chicago. Under his direction it became the largest newspaper syndicate at the turn of the 20th century.


Smith believed in an Eternal Force which many people over time had given different names. He rejected the idea of a personal Creator but believed in an immortal soul which exists at all time and is tested thru reincarnation into the Natural-world and then rests in the Other-world and then again is tested. In his view a person’s soul can either progress or regress.[3]

He rejected the “mythology of the Jews” and the religions that followed.

The revelation that has been accepted by our own people, is a collection of the dreams, legends, poetry, proverbial philosophy and scared and historic fables which were current in the twilight of the Hebrew race. It is the mythology of the Jews.[4]

Smith expressed his speculative beliefs which he thought were in accord with Nature and Science in several books. He named his rational Religion, Eternalism.


Smith’s works in particular A Short View of Great Questions and Eternalism had a profound influence upon Henry Ford. Ford said it "changed his outlook on life."[5] Ford gave a 1928 interview to German-American journalist George Sylvester Viereck further identifying his religious and spiritual views as similar to those of Orlando Smith.[6]


Major Orlando Smith died at his home on the Hudson River near Dobbs Ferry, New York of cancer of the stomach, December 20, 1908.


  • A Short View of Great Questions (1899) 75 pages text
  • The Coming Democracy (1900) 161 pages text
  • Eternalism: A Theory Of Infinite Justice 321 pages (1902) text
  • Balance: The Fundamental Verity (1904) 286 pages text
  • The Agreement between Science and Religion (1906) 32 pages text


  1. "A Great American Editor", The American Review of Reviews, (1909) Volume 39, by Albert Shaw, page 169
  2. History of Chicago, by Alfred Theodore Andreas, page 706
  3. A Short View of Great Questions by Orlando J. Smith, page 62
  4. A Short View of Great Questions by Orlando J. Smith, page 50
  5. Henry Ford and the Jews, by Neil Baldwin, page 17
  6. "Religion: Reincarnationist", Time, September 3, 1928

See also

External links